"If I Don't Hear From You Tonight" finds Courtney Barnett alone in her Melbourne apartment during lockdown. She has recently communicated her feelings towards a love interest and is awaiting her reply. The love song homes in on this specific true-life moment. "I struggle to write songs about things that are not real," Barnett told The Sun. "They're always about something within my reach, whether it's a message to someone or showing support or love."
Barnett penned "If I Don't Hear From You Tonight" from a wish to communicate honestly to the listener where her head was. It only came out after she'd reconsidered the well-worn notion of the love song. "I think my stance in the past was like, 'There's so many love songs and they don't mean anything,' but there's something really special about zooming in on a moment and capturing it," Barnett said.
The track's twangy lead guitars and hard-hitting bassline have a Velvet Underground vibe. Barnett actually recorded a version with her band a few months before she laid it down for Things Take Time, Take Time that sounded even more like the New York rockers. "I thought, 'This is too much,'" she admitted to The Sun. "I had to change it but I can't deny the influence."
Claire Marie Vogel (Norah Jones' "Carry On," Metallica's "Confusion") directed the video. It shows Barnett and her band playing the song on a ranch in the Californian desert.